GUEST POST: Tom Slatin’s “My Father was 64 When I Was Born”

Today’s post comes from a good writer friend of mine, Tom Slatin. In this post Tom writes about what it was like to be born to a father who was already old enough to be a grandfather, and the generation gap that resulted.

In addition to writing, Tom is also a very talented photographer and web designer, so take a look at his site if you’re interested!


My father was 64 when I was born, and that in and of itself created perhaps the greatest generation gap I have ever encountered in my life. In some respects, by fathering a child so late in life, I may have skipped a generation.

Throughout my life, my father told me that everything in the world was always subject to change, and if anything could change, it would. My father looked down upon my generation and told me that with every new generation came a new set of challenges upon the generation before it. According to him, every generation would be, among other things, less respectful of their elders, much less productive, and far less responsible.

Somehow, he predicted the coming of the so-called generation me. A generation that believed that the world revolved around them. A generation that believed that the world owed them something. A generation that was indeed lazy, uninspired, egotistical, and borderline failure. A generation that, sadly, embodied every possible attribute that my father expected it would.

I was raised differently. My parents raised me to do good work, even if I wasn’t being paid or somehow compensated for it. My father used to tell me that you either do good work, or don’t do it at all. I was raised to believe that quality, doing the right thing, and personal responsibility and acceptance of others was most important. As time went on, these
lessons became personal attributes, which became both a blessing and a curse.

At a young age, I was thrust into the world believing in fairness, equality, and caring about the feelings and needs of others. My depression came as a result of learning that not everything in the world was as my parents told me it would be. The world is full of unfairness, inequality, and fascism. The utopian society my parents made me believe in simply did not exist.

My father looked at life with pessimism. I couldn’t be sure exactly what it was, and at first, he wouldn’t tell me. He always said that there was something he needed to tell me. Something vitally important that hinged on the basis of the right timing. Something, he would say, that he claimed needed to be said before he passed away, but that day never came. He passed away days before he promised, once and for all that the time was right that he would tell me what he had waited so long to tell me.

The most important conversation was the one I never had with my father. There was an unpleasant feeling that came over me every time I brought up the topic. For the last few years of my fathers life, I would bring the topic up every now and again. It was almost as if my father was waiting for me to ask the right question of him, almost as if the right question would be the key to solving the seemingly unsolvable mystery.

The morning my father passed away I knew that I would never have the most important conversation with my father. Perhaps the conversation was not as important as he said it was, or maybe it was something simple that needed to be discussed. It may have been a question my father wanted to ask me; some facet of my life that was always a mystery to him, but I seriously doubt it. My parents were very much involved in my life, perhaps too much so, even when I was a full grown adult.

They say that sometimes things are better left unsaid. However, in this case, I may never know for sure.

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